GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 1 at Oklahoma City Barons 4
Oct. 21, 2011
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Grand Rapids Griffins were left to rue missed opportunities as the Oklahoma City Barons snagged their first-ever win over the Griffins in regulation 4-1 Friday night at the Cox Convention Center.
Chris Conner continued his blistering start to the season as he potted the Griffins only goal of the night. Joey MacDonald made 32 saves on the 35 shots he faced while his opposite, Yann Danis, stopped 26 of 27 Griffins shots. The Barons improved to 4-1-0-0, while the Griffins fell to 2-3-0-0.
The first period got off to a quick start when a tripping penalty against Jamie Johnson gave the Barons an early power play. Hunter Tremblay found Gilbert Brule who snapped a shot past MacDonald from just inside the right face off circle at 2:41.
Conner responded quickly for the Griffins, scoring his third goal and ninth point of the season at 5:27 when Garnet Exelby picked out him out down low with Danis out of position. Conner tapped the puck home to extend his current point streak to five games, while Exelby recorded his first point as a Griffin with the assist.
Late in the first, the Barons would make Grand Rapids pay on the power play once again. Philippe Cornet gathered in a big rebound after the initial blast from Teemu Hartikainen was saved by MacDonald. With the Grand Rapids defense unable to locate the puck, Cornet had all the time he needed to put the puck into the unattended net at 17:47.
The Griffins began the second with several chances to even the score. Midway through the period, Gustav Nyquist had the first opportunity to level matters for the Griffins but had his shot caught up in Danis’ left leg pad. Moments later, Tomas Tatar broke free while on the penalty kill, but couldn’t get a shot off after skating too far into Danis’ crease.
With Danis standing tall at one end, Cornet struck for his second of the night with 16 seconds remaining in the period to give Oklahoma City a 3-1 lead heading into the final 20 minutes of play. The Barons would make that lead stand up and Hartikainen added an empty-net tally at 19:39 to end the Griffins’ fight back.
The Griffins will get a chance to even the score with the Barons on Saturday night, with the puck set to drop at 8 p.m. EDT. Grand Raids will then motor on to Houston where they are scheduled to finish up their current five-game road trip at 6:05 p.m. EDT on Sunday evening against the Aeros.
Notes: Former Griffins defenseman Bryan Helmer, who logged 81 points (19-62—81) in 160 games for Grand Rapids, was credited with two assists for the Barons…Forward Andrej Nestrasil made his professional debut for Grand Rapids.
Three Stars: 1. OKC Cornet (two goals); 2. OKC Danis (W, 26 saves); 3. OKC Helmer (two assists)